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Started by Hundredsand on Sep 12, 2013 10:09:05 AM
Bung an Airlock in the Demi-john

If you've got stuff brewing in the cupboard, are you doing it because it gets cheap result, or is a tasty little hobby which can cost more than buying a bottle of plonk?

djsuggz - 14 Jan 2014 21:03:29 (#43 of 663)

2014 update.

The pre-mulled effort went down very well at Christmas. I'll do that again, but the blackberry and coffee effort remains my strongest concoction to date, I think.

Three things on the go at the moment:

1/ A straight out, two-bucket one-week kit my mate bought me. Smells a bit synthetic and is taking longer than a week due to lack of consistent temperatures in Winter.

2/ A Cab Sauvignon flavoured by steeped dark chocolate and Serrano chillis. Experimental, that one. Feel it ought to work.

3/ A Chardonnay that will have lime, lemon, lemon grass and ginger in the cooled top-up water.

Antimatter - 15 Jan 2014 01:55:50 (#44 of 663)

We get a very good Barolo kit here, which includes a pack of dried Elderberries, might be worth considering.

We don't have Demi-Johns here, we have Carboys. Larger basically. Makes about 30 bottles at a time. I find that the cheaper packs of grape juice work fine, the extra you pay for expensive kits just isn't worth it. We just mix it all up, sling it in the furnace room and two weeks later reap the harvest.

djsuggz - 15 Jan 2014 08:24:42 (#45 of 663)

Yeah, when I get the brewing kit I have lined-up for purchase for my birthday, it comes with a substantial fermentation vessel that you use before you pipe it off into a pressure barrel.

What I might do is buy a second such bucket (Carboy) and do something similar when I go away for a couple of weeks in the Summer. Leave it (a big kit's worth) a fortnight to ferment, then on returning home siphon it out into the other one and add finings etc. then let it settle. Could be a good route to a decent but cheap supply of everyday drinking red.

Jinkjude - 15 Jan 2014 14:45:01 (#46 of 663)

I'm currently waiting for 80 pints to condition in barrels. I think they're still months away sadly. I'm keen to do the hops thing this year too.

Rhubarb wine sounds great...we have plenty of rhubarb twice a year here.

OneOfOne - 15 Jan 2014 15:12:33 (#47 of 663)

We're going to set old Gaffer Ron up as our local brewer. We drink enough of his beer as it is, so we decided to buy a pressure vessel and install it in the poker house.

Ron will do us brews and fill it up when it's empty, and we will have a cash box for 50p a pint to cover his costs.

djsuggz - 15 Jan 2014 15:57:51 (#48 of 663)

On reflection, I think I might do a cheeky Wilcos order before I get my brewing kit.

One can get a screw-lid, airlocked fermentation vessel for 25l of fluid, plus a Merlot 30-bottle kit for a smidge under £30 total. So, £1 per bottle (give or take a few pence for sugar) and I could get it done and squirreled away in the garage for later in the year before I turn my attention to brewing experiments.

I'm really enjoying this hobby. Can you tell?

Hundredsand - 15 Jan 2014 16:13:09 (#49 of 663)

I've got to shell out for some bottles. Earlier experiments I used plastic drinks bottles to store my wine, but it seems so hillbilly.

From what I read on the internet, there isn't much wrong with it if you plan to drink your vino within a few months. I've got some elderberry which I am assured benefits from aging.

Jinkjude - 15 Jan 2014 17:00:30 (#50 of 663)

I've been stockpiling screw top wine bottles in anticipation.

djsuggz - 15 Jan 2014 18:41:38 (#51 of 663)

I think I might store my 'house red' thirty bottle stash in used plastic 2 litre water bottles. Can't hurt. Will save the bottles for my more 'artisan' efforts. Paying for bottles makes it a more expensive exercise.

carterbrandon - 15 Jan 2014 22:06:41 (#52 of 663)

Where my sister lives (the little town near Vancouver where they film Once Upon A Time), there's this place

where you can use their equipment to make big batches of your own. Beats having a demijohn blow up in your airing cupboard....

djsuggz - 16 Jan 2014 21:37:05 (#53 of 663)

Got the big kit this evening. Quite excited. 25 litres of water weighs a shitload, mind. Fermentation vessel full of it, with sterilising tablets. Setting it off tomorrow evening. Have to siphon the cleaner out first, as there's no way I can lift it up to the sink to empty it. Went for Wilcos 'Spicy Cab Sauvignon'. It works out at 90 x 250ml glasses at about 45p per glass. Extraordinary value, if it's even half drinkable. One of the best things about this stuff is it's always a sensible ABV level. I've become sick of the constant supply of 14% stuff in the shops. Too strong and sickly by far.

Elsewhere, the Hot Chocolate Drop and Thai Chardonnay are going great guns. The bucket kit is probably three days from being fined and cleared. Added a drop more yeast as the hydrometer indicates it isn't quite into the safe level yet.

Antimatter - 19 Jan 2014 20:01:57 (#54 of 663)

It really is good value, and I agree with you about the sticky stuff.

The thing with glass bottles is you only buy them the once. We store the empties in plastic crates in the garage. When it comes to bottling time, they just get a blast from the garden hose.

We do all our brewing in the garage, the primary fermentation gets done in the furnace room where it's nice and warm. MrA has also rigged up a stirrer attached to an old electric drill to speed up the stirring process.

It's quite the set up down there, at times it resembles a scene from Breaking Bad.

djsuggz - 20 Jan 2014 16:22:56 (#55 of 663)

We do all our brewing in the garage, the primary fermentation gets done in the furnace room where it's nice and warm

Reading this back, I am wondering if it could prove to be the answer to a problem I am having with the Big Kit.

Set it all going on Friday evening - 23 litres, in a screw-top fermentation vessel with an airlock and bung.

Gave it a stir at one point, as the instructions on the kit indicated 3.5 kg of sugar to go in, and it takes some mixing. Nice fermenting froth developed - probably 2/3 of an inch thick? However, no sign of any CO2 going through the airlock, as of this morning. We sealed both the screw top and the bung with vaseline yesterday afternoon, but that didn't do anything.

Does it just take longer for a larger vessel to emit sufficient gas to shift through the water in the airlock?

I thought it could be a regular temperature problem, given the amount of fluid that needs to be at the right temperature. It was by a radiator anyway, but heating only comes on twice a day - a total of 5/6 hours in every 24. Left it on constant this morning to try and warm up that part of the house, to see if that starts it. If it does, I can transfer it to a continuously warm bathroom downstairs, where my demijohns speed through in a week or so.

Any ideas, anyone? I'm slightly suspicious about the amount of year in the packet. if you do 4.5 litres, they give you 6g. This is 23 litres, and it was only 12g. More yeast needed?

Thought welcomed. I don't want to just have £££ of grape juice sat in the kitchen for the Winter!

OneOfOne - 20 Jan 2014 17:01:57 (#56 of 663)

I had a heating belt on my bigger vessels.

And yes, I think it will just take a wee bit longer to get going. The more air you have at the top of the thingy, the more CO2 you'll need to get before there's enough pressure to bloop through the airlock.

MOAR yeast, why the hell not. Won't hurt anything.

Hundredsand - 20 Jan 2014 17:53:40 (#57 of 663)

More yeast and yeast nutrient.

Antimatter - 21 Jan 2014 22:20:15 (#58 of 663)

The larger ones do take longer to get started. We have had ones that were slow to get started before now, but they have always turned out alright in the end.

Antimatter - 21 Jan 2014 22:21:13 (#59 of 663)

Come to think of it, when we brewed in the UK we used a heating jacket as our house was extremely cold.

djsuggz - 22 Jan 2014 08:40:42 (#60 of 663)

Chucked yeast and yeast nutrient in last night and gave it a stir. Tea towels over it, sat it by the radiator and now off overseas for five days. Fingers crossed it's cooking nicely when I get home.

Antimatter - 29 Jan 2014 01:23:56 (#61 of 663)

Hope you have a great trip! Found an interesting thing in our local co-op, it's a litre of beer, you just have to add the yeast and leave it somewhere warm. Within a couple of weeks, it ferments and produces a bottle of beer for $5. Looks good so far.

Jinkjude - 12 Feb 2014 12:08:52 (#62 of 663)

I've come to my pressure barrel after a couple of months beer conditioning and it's totally flat. Re-primed and once again the barrel has lost all pressure (after new cap/seals). Is the beer finished? It's been in there since before Christmas....

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